12 Best Museums to Walk Among Dinosaurs

If you ever had the inkling to come face to face with a dinosaur, now is your chance. Although there are not any Jurassic Park theme parks as of yet; there are plenty of museums where you can get a more realistic idea of where dinosaurs came from and how they evolved. From China to New York to the land down under these 12 awesome museums give you the chance to walk among the dinosaurs, each offering their own unique spin on exhibits and displays.

12. Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey

Part education and part entertainment, this is the closest you will come to living out your Jurassic World fantasies. Your journey here starts at the museum which features bones and eggs from millions of years ago and takes visitors through the history of dinosaurs with incredible exhibits. The science center is among the favorites and informative guides take visitors through, talking about the incubation units and introducing them to the moving realistic looking dinosaurs.

There is a great digging workshop for kids and after excavating they will receive a certificate. The 4-D theatre is suitable for all ages, although if you have really young kids it may be scary. This interactive film takes visitors a ride to Dinosaur Island and be prepared as you may just want to watch it again and again. Part museum, part amusement park, this is best suited for families with kids.

Via istanbulkesfi.com

11. Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

You won’t be heading here to see dinosaurs such as the famous T-Rex or Stegosaurus; instead, you will find prehistoric beats from the Karoo Region. This museum caters to visitors who want to learn more about the less known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent. The dinosaur hall is where you’ll find a permanent exhibition called Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo.

Here visitors will find ancient lizards, huge crocodiles and a cast of the most complete skeleton of Heterodontosaurus found to date. Make sure to check out Kirky the dinosaur, arguably the cutest dinosaur in the history of South Africa. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance and you will want to explore more than just the dinosaur hall here.

Via fireflyafrica.blogspot.com

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Colorado

Although this museum is quite small, it delivers an awesome experience for those looking to learn more about dinosaurs. The center features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. Graphics and life-restoration sculptures are used to help visitors imagine these animals in real life.

What is so cool about this museum is the fact that you can see right inside the working fossil laboratory through the glass windows. This is a great museum for kids as it is not so big they will get tired and there are plenty of activities for them such as a fossil dig box, activity stations, and two short movies. Visitors will definitely want to take advantage of the tour that is included with admission as they run about an hour long and are highly informative.

Via The Dinosaur Stop

9. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

Besides housing an extremely large collection of bones excavated from Tanzania, 250 tones to be exact, this museum is also home to the tallest dinosaur on display in the world. The Brachiosaurus dominates the first gallery, standing at 41 feet, 5 inches tall. Also on display at this museum visitors will find the impressive Kentrosaurus, a spiky lizard that lived in the Upper Jurassic period.

What might be the most impressive here though is the Archaeopteryx fossil, thought to be the best-known fossil in the world and provides the link between birds and dinosaurs. One of the most interesting things this museum has done is install Jurascopes that allow visitors to bring the dinosaurs to life.

Via YouTube

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

This museum is home to the permanent exhibition “Giants of the Mesozoic”, where a battle between giants is taking place. The world’s largest dinosaurs are shown here in a predator vs. prey situation and replicate the badlands of Patagonia, Argentina, where the largest dinosaurs in the world were unearthed. This exhibit features the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur that is comparable in size to the T-Rex, as well as the Argentinosaurus, who scientists claim is the largest dinosaur ever classified.

Visitors will want to look up as more than 20 pterosaurs are shown overhead. Other notable features in this museum are the pterosaur and dinosaur tracks, remnants from an Araucaria tree, a fossilized crocodile, and additional fossil casts. It should be noted that all the fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens as the actual fossilized bones remain in Argentina, where they are considered a national treasure.

Via Expedia

7. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, Belgium

The most important pieces in the museum are definitely the 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 and helping to make the dinosaur hall Europe’s largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. This museum is not just fascinating to walk through though, it actually offers an incredible amount of education through the interactive exhibits including the details of the fossilization process and dinosaur digs.

Parents will love watching the eight interviews with paleontology experts around the world while kids will have a blast in the paleo lab where they can touch and explore real fossils, along with putting together a life-sized stegosaurus and walking in dinosaur footprints. This museum does an excellent job linking dinosaurs to modern-day animals, making it even easier to understand how evolution works. A win-win in our books.

Via Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

6. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

This museum holds more than 130,000 fossils and is the only one of its kind dedicated to the science of paleontology. This museum focuses on education, creativity, and fun while opening visitor’s eyes to the fascinating world of dinosaurs. Visitors will want to make sure to head over to the Albertosaurus exhibit where this close relative of the T-Rex is displayed moving across a dry river channel.

This exhibit was the result of scientific evidence collected from a mass grave. The Dinosaur Hall features one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains that have been reconstructed and a favorite of many visitors. A rotating fossil display will enthuse visitors who are looking to see more of the tens of thousands of fossils this museum has. Make sure to make your way over to the Cretaceous Garden and experience what that environment was like and see Canada’s largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.

Via fortwoplz.com

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

This museum attracts over seven million visitors a year, in part because of its awesome location atop a fossil site. The excellent reputation it holds comes from the life-like exhibits, unique architecture, magnificent burial sites and incredible environment. Visitors here will experience two floors of displays and exhibits. The first floor features the favorite of many, Dinosaur world where 18 dinosaurs of different species and size are displayed.

The first floor is also home to the burial site, the largest burial site for watching spot-on protected dinosaur fossils so far known in the world. The second floor features a treasure hall, a display of all the flora and fauna from that period and displays on the evolution of dinosaurs and species. This huge roc cave-like museum was the first museum in Asia dedicated to dinosaurs and will surely not disappoint visitors.

Via CNN.com

4. American Museum of Natural History, New York

This museum has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world and houses two famed dinosaur halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is where visitors will find one of the major groups of dinosaurs, the ones with grasping hands. It is here where you will find the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and the Apatosaurus. Along with the fossils, there is a slew of video footage and photography exploring the history of paleontology at the museum.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features the group of dinosaurs defined by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone and include such dinosaurs as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The museum has actually developed a dinosaur map to go along with the exhibit and visitors can use the app to help plan their way through the exhibits. For kids ages 6-13 there is a special overnight experience that takes place in the dinosaur hall where they can explore the exhibits by flashlight.

Via Citi Bike

3. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra, Australia

Home to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils in Australia, this is where you should head if you want to know anything about dinosaurs down under. The museum actually follows the evolution of life and just happens to put the emphasis on dinosaurs. The favorite part of this museum has to be the dinosaur garden, with its imposing dinosaur sculptures made out of fiberglass and animatronics.

The museum has only been in operation since 1993 and with 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, it is growing and expanding its collection as each year passes. Special experiences here include guided tours, children’s learning events, and fossil digs.

Via ABC

2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

It is one of the few dinosaur museums that have its own excavation site within driving distance and the standout attraction is the 106 foot Supersaurus on display, although their claim to fame here is the Archaeopteryx.  Only 12 specimens exist in the world and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull.

Also, there are over 30 mounted dinosaurs including two Velociraptors and a 41 foot T-Rex that is attacking a Triceratops horridus. Walking through the museums means following the time displays which go from earliest life forms to dinosaurs and finally mammals. The dig site can be toured in nice weather and it’s a rare opportunity for visitors to see dinosaur bones in the ground and the actual excavation of them. The real draw here is the chance to speak with actual paleontologists or to join one of the “dig days”.

Via Pitchengine

1. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

It has the most famous of all museum dinosaurs, Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. The original skull weighs over 600 lbs and flashes 58 teeth and she is over 42 feet long and 67 million years old. That is just the beginning of this awesome dinosaur experience here at the Field Museum of Natural History.

The permanent Evolving Planet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through an expanded dinosaur hall where you learn about every major group of dinosaurs, where they lived, and what scientists have learned from Sue. Kids will love the fossil play lab located in the dinosaur hall. Don’t miss the 3-D movie where visitors are taken on a ride through Sue’s life, from hatchling to a 7-ton ferocious beast.

Via Chicago Tribune

The 12 Best Rooftop Bars in America

Rooftop bars continue to pop up all over America year after year and as this trend continues to grow, rooftop patios continue to get bigger and better. Although many assume that rooftop bars can only be accessed in the summertime, or in warm weather states, they would be mistaken, as shown by the sheer number of four-season rooftop bars, even in cold places such as Chicago. From rooftop bars that feature crystal-encrusted pools to those featuring incredible Latin-American street food, we have rounded up 12 of the best rooftop bars in America.

12. SODA Bar, NYLO Hotel, Dallas

Visitors can unwind and relax at this ultra modern rooftop bar complete with foosball tables, faux grass, and Texas brews. Located on top of the century-old Dallas Coffin Co. building this rooftop looks out onto the twinkling lights of downtown Dallas. Relax near the rooftop infinity pool; pull up a seat at the unique blue lighted bar or stretch out around the glowing fire pit.

Make sure to try one of the specialty cocktails such as the Black Forest Martini or their signature Nylorita. Handmade sandwiches, thin crust pizzas and a variety of delicious appetizers accompany their expanding bar menu. SODA Bar is open to the public, not just guests of the NYLO Hotel and is perhaps the perfect place to spend an evening relaxing under the twinkling stars.

Via Pintrest

11. I|O Urban Roofscape, Chicago

It boasts itself as the highest indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge in the city of Chicago and this unique bar features a state of the art retractable roof that allows visitors to enjoy the lounge all year round. This 10,000 square feet space features uninterrupted views of the city’s skyline. Chic modern furniture sets the stage, along with ultra-modern umbrellas, splashes of color and superior service.

Other amazing features include a video wall, shimmering water elements, a fire pit and retractable roof. A menu that includes eats such as black truffle fries and grilled pork belly skewers goes perfectly with the handcrafted cocktails that are sure to wow any guest. Visitors should be sure to dress to impress if they plan on visiting this bar at night, as it is located inside a 4-star luxury hotel and requires upscale casual attire.

Via Libart USA

10. Six Feet Under, Atlanta

It is one of Atlanta’s most popular rooftop bars and with two locations one simply cannot be in this city and not visit here. Known for their locally made beer, chilled out vibe and extensive seafood menu, Six Feet Under is always hopping with action. We suggest heading to the location on Memorial Drive as the rooftop bar overlooks the Oakland Cemetery, another must see if you are in the city.

Locally crafted beer is not the only drink you should try here though; make sure to sample themed cocktails that the talented bartenders craft every day. Catfish tacos, an alligator appetizer, and raw oysters are just a slice of what you will see on this menu. Don’t expect to see any art-deco or chic furnishings here as this place is truly a reflection of the South. Do expect friendly service, incredible seafood, and great company.

Via 10best.com

9. Three Sixty, St. Louis

Electric colors of bright yellow and green set the stage for this rooftop bar that is located nearly 400 feet above downtown St. Louis. Three Sixty offers sweeping views in all directions, hence the name, and includes a bird’s eye view right into Busch Stadium. In addition to the Cardinals-themed cocktails, Three Sixty offers a variety of wine, beer and handcrafted small plates such as roasted BBQ oysters.

This stunning 6,000 square-foot space features indoor and outdoor seating, multiple indoor bars, an open kitchen, dramatic wine wall, fire pits and a giant outside bar. On Friday and Saturday nights visitors should expect to see a DJ spinning the beats and on all Cardinal home games, this bar is the place to be. Open after 4 pm, every day of the week, this is truly the hottest place to be in the city.

Via uk.businessinsider.com

8. Stars Restaurant & Rooftop Bar, South Carolina

This rooftop bar is a haven away from the hustle and bustle that makes up Upper King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. It also happens to be the only rooftop bar in Charleston with 360 degree views of the surrounding area. The location is unique in itself, the bar housed in a restored Arts and Crafts building that features 1930’s décor and views of the city’s beautiful historic district. With a large selection of international tap wines, specialty cocktails, and craft beer; there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Lunch and dinner are served here seven days of the week and feature both classic and innovative dishes. The furnishings include seagrass planters filled with fresh herbs, recycled wicker furniture, a reclaimed Tigerwood Bar and space heaters for the cooler nights. Make sure to try one of the bar’s original cocktails before you leave, we recommend the “Southern Belle Bathwater”, an innovative spin on the traditional Southern spiked lemonade.

Via Pintrest

7. Bar 54, New York

There are a plethora of rooftops bars in New York to choose from but the one that stands out from all the rest is Bar 54. Located on the 54th floor of the Hyatt Times Square, visitors shouldn’t expect loud music, excessive crowds or cheaply made cocktails like many of the rooftop bars in the city. Instead, visitors here will find a calm and unpretentious environment, with some of the absolute best cocktails in the city.

The views aren’t bad either: the Chrysler building, both rivers, and Manhattan’s southern skyline. Visitors can choose to sit inside or out, both offering the incredible views, the high windows run the length of the establishment. Expect superior service, an excellent snack menu and unforgettable cocktails. It will cost patrons at least $20 and up for a cocktail, but hey this is Times Square in New York City after all.

Via Time Out

6. Perch, Los Angeles

It hails itself as an elevated resting place, a rooftop bistro located on the 15th-floor that oozes with unique ambiance and is inspired by vintage French restaurants. Visitors to Perch may, in fact, feel as though they have been transported to the South of France; if it weren’t for the nearby skyscrapers that surround them. Antique-inspired furniture, detailed woodwork, intricate fireplaces, wicker chaises and plush lounge couches greet patrons as they arrive.

Whether you want to sit outdoors and enjoy one of the many fireplaces, lush landscaping, and gorgeous L.A views; or choose to sit indoors, with its intimate bohemian like atmosphere with stretching 30-foot ceilings; you won’t be disappointed. Head up to the 16th floor on cooler evenings to experience live jazz music, fire pits, and incredible cocktails, with names such as the “French Maid”.

Via Amanda Mills Los Angeles

5. Frol!k Kitchen + Cocktails, Seattle

It is one of Seattle’s most beloved destinations, featuring expansive outdoor seating, colorful modern furniture, and beautiful outdoor fireplaces. Whether you are meeting a group of friends or on a hot date; there are plenty of things to do for everyone, including shuffleboard courts. Or why not try your hand on one of the bright orange ping pong tables throughout the bar.

Seasonal hand-crafted cocktails are the favorite here and patrons will want to try one of the Pacific Northwest-inspired drinks, such as the “Marionberry Smash”. Several heat sources will keep visitors warm from the Pacific Northwest chill including an amazing tabletop fireplace. Although this rooftop bar doesn’t offer sweeping views of the city, it does offer an incredible ambiance and chilled out vibe, perfect for those relaxing nights.

Via ankrommoisan.com

4. Juvia, Miami

With a motto like “our penthouse is your penthouse”, visitors to Juvia should expect great things. It is one of Miami’s most popular rooftop bars due in part to its South Beach views and ultramodern décor. Striking colors of purple set the stage for this hip venue, along with an incredible vertical garden designed by an internationally renowned botanist. Juvia offers a variety of seating options, ranging from comfortable couches to high tables.

This dining oasis hands high in the sky above Miami Beach and patrons have the choice to sit indoors or out; while indulging in the French-Asian fusion menu. With a handful of award-winning chefs and designers; it is no surprise that locals and visitors to this area flock to this rooftop bar night after night. Insider tip- make sure to make a reservation ahead of time if you want to sit at an outdoor table as this rooftop bar gets crowded quickly.

Via Thirsty Mag

3. ABH, Sixty Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

This exclusive rooftop terrace is set high above Beverly Hills and remains one of the most sought-after drinking spots in the city. This two-level rooftop space offers full meals, snacks, and incredible specialty cocktails. The bar is open to both hotel guests and visitors although if you want to take a dip in the crystal-encrusted pool you have to be a guest of the hotel.

Elegant yet simple wooden furnishings adorn the patio and lanterns hung above to create an intimate setting. Later into the night the bar shifts into a more club-like atmosphere with fireplace lounges and DJ’s spinning beats, along with a plethora of people dancing to the tunes. Being the only rooftop al fresco bar and restaurant located within walking distance of Rodeo Drive, this rooftop attracts high-end clientele who are willing to drop serious cash on the specialty cocktails and fantastic small plates.

Via PartySlate

2. Legal Harborside, Boston

This expansive restaurant and bar feature over three floors of dining areas but if you are looking for the best rooftop bar in Boston it is up to the third floor you will head. The promenade deck here offers a four-season rooftop lounge and bar, complete with retractable walls and ceiling. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy the views of the harbor and skyline from the fully enclosed glass wall space.

Summer months the walls and ceiling are pulled back and visitors can drink under the sun and stars. An expansive wine menu, hand-crafted cocktails, and pitchers of punches pair perfectly with the incredible sushi menu. Plush lounge seating, incredible décor and the twinkling lights of the harbor create the perfect atmosphere in the city. A must visit for any visitor to the city.

Via Liberty Wharf

1. El Techo de Lolinda, San Francisco

Famous for its incredible views that stretch all the way from Mission Street to the Bay, El Techo de Lolinda is one of the best places to grab a tequila cocktail and some Latin-American inspired street food. This rooftop bar is located above the Lolinda Steakhouse and is famous in the city for being one of the best rooftop bars around. Whether you happen upon this bar during the day, or at night, expect great things.

Make sure to indulge in one of the famous pina coladas or margaritas, made with fresh coconut. Come from brunch on the weekends and keep cool under one of the umbrellas or saunter over here at night, where the heat lamps will keep you warm and the kitchen is open until 1 am. Whenever you decide to visit, enjoy these unique tequila cocktails, fresh food, and incredible views.

Via Eater SF

The Most Amazing Stained Glass in the World

It is an art form most associated with holy places, mostly Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages but stained glass can be found in so many different venues around the world. If you are lucky the sun will hit the glass just right, giving way to indescribable beauty and illumination. Stained glass windows aren’t just there for beauty but they most often tell a story, educate and inspire people. From the largest stained glass window in the world to medieval churches to modern-day takes on this art form, here are seven examples of incredible stained glass throughout our world.

7. Chapel of Thanks-Giving, Dallas, Texas

The most prominent and recognizable feature of the Thanks-Giving Square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, thanks to the Glory Window; one of the largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world. The chapel is a small spiral tower and the window was designed by Gabriel Loire who designed it to feature brighter colors as the spiral reaches its apex, becoming brighter as it reaches the center.

The spiral shape of the window was inspired by the spiraled shape of the chambered nautilus, a squid that lives inside a shell. The spiral is made up of 73 panels of glass and is one of the most unique stained glass features around the world. The chapel is part of a three-acre complex that also includes a garden and museum, dedicated to how Thanksgiving is celebrated around the world.

6. Erawan Museum, Bangkok

There are thousands of temples to discover in Bangkok but if you are looking for incredible stained glass, the Erawan Museum is the place to find just that. This whimsical museum is actually a sculpture of the three-headed elephant, Erawan, from the Hindu mythology and boasts an amazing stained glass ceiling. German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf was in charge of the project and took a traditional approach to the job, asking glass companies to use the ancient procedure of blowing the glass to produce the stained glass.

The stained glass is semi-abstract although it represents the story of the earth and consists of the five continents at the middle with the sun shining to provide energy to all life forms. Surrounding this is the ring of 12 zodiac signs and the human figure depicted in various gestures. Awe-inspiring to look at, don’t forget to explore the rest of this awesome museum.

5. Resurrection Cemetery, Illinois

It is here where you will find the world’s largest stained glass window, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Pickel Studio created this window that sits over 22,000 square feet of faceted glass and contains 2,448 panels. Work on this stained glass started in the 1960’s and since then over 1,000 new and exciting windows and walls of glass have been added. One of the most impressive places in the world to see such an extraordinary amount of stained glass.

Via Waymarking

4. Winchester Cathedral, England

In 1642 the cathedrals huge medieval stained glass West Window was deliberately smashed by Cromwell’s forces following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, a tragedy to the beautiful works of art. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the broken glass was actually gathered up and used again.

But this time there was no rhyme or reason to the design, the glass was placed randomly after it was determined it would be too hard to put back together. What results is a collection of colorful pieces that shine in the sunlight and tell a story of history, tragedy, and rebuilding.

Via Round Tables

3. Chicago Cultural Center, Illinois

Hundreds of thousands of visitor’s flock here each year, not just to marvel at the beautifully stained glass domes but also because of the many free public events it hosts. The landmark building is indeed home to two magnificent stained glass dome though, one that claims to be the largest stained glass Tiffany Dome in the world. In the south side of the building is that claim to fame, the Tiffany dome that stands 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.

This dome was restored in 2008, bringing even more visitors to gaze at its beauty. The second dome is located on the north side of the building and is a whopping 40 feet in diameter and features over 50,000 pieces of glass designed in an intricate Renaissance pattern. Whether you are coming here for the free festivals, art exhibits or family events, make sure to check out these two incredible stained glass works.

Via City of Chicago

2. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

This royal medieval Gothic chapel located in the heart of Paris boasts some of the most impressive stained glass in the world. There are a total of fifteen huge 13th-century windows that fill the nave and apse and despite some damage, are still in incredible condition. The windows are practically floor to ceiling and display a clear iconographical program.

A painstaking seven-year restoration of the windows was completed in early 2015, a process that removed centuries of dirt from the thousands of panels. It is best to visit on a sunny day when the deep blues and red stand out best, in images that depict Old Testament scenes and the Crucifixion. One does not need to be religious to appreciate this incredible artwork.

1. Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Netherlands

This building features a modern take on stained glass, according to designers the buildings façade is a screen of colored relief glass that depicts famous images from Dutch television. There are hundreds of panels of glass that represent images from all genres and eras and although difficult to see the images clearly from all angles, they can be seen more clearly from the inside. Described as cathedral-like, this is one of the most impressive modern stained glass displays out there.

The building itself is actually housed both underground and above ground, 10 stories’ in total with five of them being below the surface. Inside the building houses the national broadcasting archives which encompass over 700,000 hours of television, film, music and radio footage.

The 9 Greatest Bars in the World

Narrowing down the greatest bars in the world is a tough feat, considering so many of them have managed to fly under the radar, guarding their locations and managing to keep them a secret. From hidden doors with doormen who usher you in quickly to dive bars that have retained their 1930’s charm to some of the most talented barkeeps and mixologists, these nine bars are considered some of the very best. Whether you dabble in cocktails, drool over in-house-made infusions or simply want a place to meet with friends, make sure to check out some of the greatest bars in the world.

9. Milk Tiger Lounge, Calgary

While many don’t associate amazing cocktails bars with the city of Calgary, there is one hidden gem here called the Milk Tiger Lounge. This classic cocktail bar employs mixologists and bartenders with levels of expertise and dedication to the craft you won’t find anywhere else in the province. It’s a throwback to the days when people would slide into a seat at the bar, take off their fedora and chat with the bartender.

The drink list is littered with cocktails you only have heard of in black and white movies and even features the first cocktail to ever be invented in America- the Sazerac. A well-chosen wine menu, delicious appetizers and a passion for cocktails set this bar among the best in the world.

Via Robert Pashuk Architecture

8. The California Clipper, Chicago

The Clipper is an old bar from the 1930’s, complete with red leather, lots of wood and cash only. The old-school jukebox is heavy on Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline which patrons are free to control. It can sometimes be referred to as a dive bar, but the best of dive bars featuring a craft cocktail list that shares menu space with cheap beer in bottles and cans.

Expect to shimmy up on one of the leather bar stools, order a famous Brandy Crusta and watch the live band. Or order a refreshing Amaro Shaved Ice, a drink hard to find anywhere else. Come for one drink and stay for many as the lights are dim enough in here to make you stay all night.

Via Californiaclipper.com

7. Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans

It is a world-renowned cocktails bar in New Orleans and is not to be missed on any trip here. Interestingly enough it was originally a gentleman only bar during the days of the Cazenave family but today anyone is welcome here. There is an emphasis here on premium spirits, classic cocktails, and fine cigars.

The furnishings in here alone are incredible, both the bar and bar back were custom built in the late 1800’s. The staff is decked out in white tuxedos with black bow ties and the best barkeep in New Orleans, Chris Hannah calls this place home. We recommend going there and ordering an Old Fashioned, trust us.

Via arnaudsrestaurant.com

6. Eastern Standard Kitchen and Bar, Boston

The beautiful lounge is enough to make one want to visit this incredible bar, as it boasts the longest marble bar in the city, where exceptional bartenders make top-notch cocktails. One of the best reasons to visit this bar is their cocktail selection, as the bar team seems to view the drinking process as a conversation.

They craft their beverage selection carefully, and their specialty is creating classic cocktails that utilize in-house made vermouth, infusions, and bitters from around the world. The drink list won’t be the same here if you come in different seasons as it changes at least 4 times a year. As an added bonus the menu happens to be incredible and features such things as seared salmon and delicious burgers.

Via cntraveler.com

5. Angel’s Share, New York City

It is one of the classiest joints in the East Village, easily reached by an unmarked side door at the front of the Japanese Restaurant Village Yokocho. Many do not know about this bar and perhaps that is one reason why it is so incredible.

You are not allowed to stand around in this bar, nor bring any more than three of your closest friends, this is indeed one of the best places to bring a date. With a stellar view of Stuyvesant Square, bartenders in tuxedos and arguably the city’s best grasshoppers; this is the place to be. Go now, before everyone else finds out about it.

Via cntraveler.com

4. Green Russell, Denver

An amazing cocktail experience awaits visitors to the Green Russell in Denver, located in the underbelly of the most historic block in Denver. Visitors reach this bar by entering through a pie shop and through a swinging door. The bar is actually named for an 1850’s Colorado gold miner William Green Russell.

Inside the bar is styled as a Prohibition-era cocktail joint, featuring exposed brick, opulent chandeliers, plush armchairs and one playful telephone booth. Hand-crafted cocktails are the specialty here using a variety of house bitters, infusions, freshly squeezed juices and small-batch spirits. Appetizers and fresh pie are available to order daily and this is the ultimate bar for quiet conversation and a damn good cocktail.

via 10best.com

3. Hop Sing Laundromat, Philadelphia

Located in Philly’s Chinatown, one has to know where to look to find this incredible bar, (hint-look for the metal gated doorway on Race Street) and one has to be dressed to impress in order to gain access. Visitors get taken inside by a doorman to a vestibule where the floor is coated in pennies and sat down in a church pew where you must hand over your identification for inspection.

Once passing that test, you head inside where you will sample some of the city’s best cocktails and hopefully meet the owner who boasts very firm rules: no sneakers, no shorts, and no photos. Le, the owner claims to be from North Korea, although he is, in fact, Vietnamese by birth. Think about stepping into Hogwarts, pulling up a chair and sipping on one of the best cocktails you’ve ever had. Don’t believe us? Try it yourself, just make sure you don’t wear running shoes.

Via wheretraveler.com

2. Canon, Seattle

It is the pinnacle of Seattle cocktail culture and Jamie Boudreau has made this cocktail bar into something so over the top, it is absolutely incredible. Walking in, the dark upholstery and antique cash register will immediately catch your eye and whether you are in a suit and tie or plaid shirt and jeans, you immediately feel welcomed.

The bar is stained with Angostura bitters, the barrel-aged cocktails served in glass flasks and the drink menu features over 100 different concoctions. The bartenders are superb, managing to balance the hard job of crafting each cocktail to perfection while doing so in a timely manner to serve so many patrons rapidly. There is a beautiful and extensive, almost drool-worthy collection of liquor and if you are a whiskey fan, this bar does not disappoint.

Via The Whiskey Wash

1. 365 Tokyo, Las Vegas

Good luck getting into this member only bar in Las Vegas, a Japanese-inspired bar located on the second floor of Inspire. This bar seats just eight patrons in a tiny room that is walled in on three sides by limo-tinted glass. Guests here are greeted with a bow from the lead barmen and his assistant, along with a warm scented towel, glass of cucumber water and cocktail menu. Much of the experience here is up to the guests, as they can choose which ice they want, the base spirit and even mixing technique.

We aren’t just talking about shaken or stirred here though, these advanced techniques include frozen with liquid nitrogen, siphon-infused with botanicals or even smoked with your choice of wood. Luckily for those who don’t know this much as cocktails, you can leave it up to the bartender to choose for you. Memberships are hard to come by, but we suggest jumping if you ever have the chance to visit this bar

Via Las Vegas Weekly

7 Legendary Toy Stores That Even Adults Will Love

It is no secret that kids go crazy for toy stores and planning a vacation with a trip to one always brings smiles. But what about the adults, can they have fun too? There are your run of the mill toy stores and then there are legendary, knock your socks off toy stores that appeal to both kids and adults. Think of towering dinosaurs, interactive play areas; classic toys that take you back to your childhood and more Lego than you have ever imagined. These seven awesome toy stores, located around the world will have both kids and adults leaving with a smile on their face.

7. Hamleys -London, England

Established in 1760, Hamleys is the oldest toy shop in the world and one of the most loved. The flagship store in London is located on Regent Street and features over seven floors that house more than 50,000 toys. It is one of the city’s most visited attractions welcoming more than five million visitors each year. The toy store is divided into separate toy categories; each having their own floor and generally the ground floor is devoted to anything soft from teddy bears to life size giraffes and elephants. It’s not just toys here at this toy store though; throughout the year various events take place including appearances by Father Christmas and his elves and incredible birthday party opportunities. Even Snoopy and Charlie Brown are known to make an appearance every now and then. You will have no trouble finding the perfect toy here, if anything you will come out with much more than you expected!

Photo by: Sharonsree
Photo by: Sharonsree

6. Kiddyland -Tokyo, Japan

This toy store appeals to kids and adults that are looking for anything Japanese, as you won’t find many of these toys anywhere else in the world. A constantly changing inventory makes this shopping experience unique every time you visit. Spread over five floors the atmosphere in the store is playful and relaxed, letting shoppers unwind and find their inner-child. Explore the entire Hello Kitty floor, the Snoopy floor and others that include Pokémon, Star Wars and Lego. Kids will love the variety of toys and figurines while adults will appreciate unique souvenirs such as Star Wars chopsticks. To get shoppers even more in the spirit, Kiddyland has decorated their stairs and elevators with characters. Overwhelming at times, this toy store is a must visit.

Photo by: tokyo.parallellt
Photo by: tokyo.parallellt

5. Playthings Etc. -Pennsylvania, USA

It proclaims to be the “world’s coolest toy store” and looking at the outside we may just have to agree, considering the store is actually shaped like a spaceship. Inside shoppers will find toys and hobbies for all ages, over 3,000 toys to discover. What makes this toy store so awesome is the fact the staff let you try out just about anything, inside or out. There are toy stations set up all over the store, where you can try out classic toys and new futuristic ones you have never seen before. Whether you are looking for old classics, futuristic toys or science experiment toys, you will find it all here. The employees who do demonstrations on unicycles, rockets, pogo sticks, magic and more will also entertain visitors to the store.

Photo by: Playthings Etc. The World's Coolest Toy Store!
Photo by: Playthings Etc. The World’s Coolest Toy Store!

4. Nintendo World -New York, USA

Hop into your very own warp pipe into the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond when you visit this incredible store located in Manhattan’s historic Rockefeller Center. There is over 10,000 square feet of gaming goodness here, spread over two floors, awaiting both news fans and old. This store is definitely not “hands off” as there are gaming stations throughout, with both new and old systems to explore. This is also the place you will find more memorabilia and games than anywhere else in the world when it comes to Nintendo. Don’t miss checking out the awesome Nintendo Museum, which is a part of the store and was recently upgraded and renovated. Events are constantly happening here with new releases of games and systems and it doesn’t seem to matter when you visit, we promise you will leave with a new found appreciation for Nintendo.

Photo by: NintendoNYC
Photo by: NintendoNYC

3. The Lego Store -New York City, USA

Lego has been entertaining kids since 1932, when the brand was developed and clicked with children all over the world. Lego has an impressive amount of stores and it can be hard to narrow down which is the best but the award has to go to New York City. Its two-story Rockefeller Center location boasts over 3,000 square feet of iconic plastic bricks, and all the accessories to go with them. The Pick-A-Brick wall is perhaps the most impressive feature of this store. A structure dressed with 116 bubbles filled with individual Lego pieces, ranging from rare colored bricks to flowers to wheels, fences and more. The Master’s Builder Bar is where you can design your own Lego kit and even play Lego inspired video games. If that wasn’t enough to win you over, how about searching the store for the 50 Lego scenes of the Big Apple that are situated throughout. We aren’t sure who will enjoy this store more, the kids or the adults.

Photo by: TimeOut
Photo by: TimeOut

2. Disney Store -London, England

It wouldn’t be a list of epic toy stores if it didn’t have at least one Disney Store on it and the largest one in Europe gets special mention here. From the outside, the store is impressive in itself featuring a 28 foot high Princess Castle with an animated clock. The Princess makes appearances in the windows while Tinkerbell flies across the walls. Guarding the store are Mickey and Donald Sentries. Inside is where the real magic happens though, featuring 8,200 square feet of toys, games and clothes, all featuring Disney’s iconic characters. Free interactive events constantly happen throughout the year including animation classes, storytelling, trivia quizzes and even full fledged parades. Adults will enjoy the interesting map that shows Disney’s connection to London by pinpointing movie locations such as Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral from movies such as Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians and more.

Disney Store london

1. American Girl Place -Chicago, USA

American Girl Place is the ultimate toy store to visit for any doll fan, whether you are an adult or child. Located at Chicago’s Water Tower Place it is the largest American Girl store in the United States. This shop is home to all of the beloved doll characters including the Girl of the Year and more. It is here where shoppers will find an extensive range of doll accessories, clothing, posters and books. Doll lovers will absolutely love designing their own matching doll and girl t-shirts, appearing on the cover of a souvenir issue of American Girl and watching their doll get their hair done in the Doll Hair Salon. There is even an elegant American Girl Café that is open for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, reservations are highly recommended. Special events happen throughout the year here and include private shopping nights, meet and greet with Santa and holiday parties.

Photo by: Flickr/popaitaly
Photo by: Flickr/popaitaly

The 8 Best Hotels for Foodies in the USA

Traveling is about discovering new people, places, culture, and—of course—food, glorious food. From the saucy jambalaya of New Orleans to the super fresh seafood and produce of coastal California, the U.S. is chock full of cities that appeal to travelers’ foodie sensibilities. For the true foodie, though, where you check-in in a new city is just as important as which city you decide to check out. If you’re hankering for a gourmet experience without ever having to live the comfort of your hotel, check out these eight U.S. hotels that offer up some prime dining experiences:

8. The Dogfish Inn -Lewes, DE

Created by the folks behind the perennially tasty Dogfish Head beer, the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Del., is a retro stylish roadside inn whose handsome rooms are stocked with locally sourced snacks and handy barware. Even the room décor has a beer-centric vibe; prints of Dogfish Head’s groovy beer labels hang in each room. Start your day at the Dogfish Inn with a steaming cup of locally roasted Dogfish Chicory Coffee, then check out the Dogfish Head production brewery, which is just a few-minutes drive away. Another fun outing? Grab a six pack of your favorite brew and head to the Delaware Bay and while away the day at the beach. For more heart-pumping activities, go explore the trails at nearby Cape Henlopen State Park or paddle down the Broadkill River (there’s a kayak launch super close the inn).

Photo by: Dogfish Inn
Photo by: Dogfish Inn

7. The Hotel Modern -New Orleans, LA

The Hotel Modern in New Orleans boasts eclectic décor in a hip neighborhood—and a margarita that’s been named one of Travel + Leisure’s “America’s Best.” The fun starts before you even unpack your bags at this hotel; as soon as you arrive, you’ll be offered complimentary drinks. Once you’re settled in to your bright and funky hotel room (think neon pink accent walls and punchy accessories), go check out the hotel’s lounge, the Bellocq. Here, hip bartenders serve up incredible custom-crafted cocktails—get there before 7 pm to take advantage of some awesome happy hour specials! Getting hungry? Head to the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Tivoli & Lee, where innovative chefs turn out modern takes on classic southern comfort foods. You might be tempted to spend all your waking and sleeping hours in this hotel, but make sure you take some time to explore the French Quarter right outside the hotel’s door—more delicious New Orleans specialties await you!

Photo by: The Hotel Modern
Photo by: The Hotel Modern

6. Blackberry Farm -Walland, TN

Pack your bags (and your gardening gloves) and head to Blackberry Farm in the Great Smokey Mountains for a luxurious foodie getaway. The intimate hotel is situated on over 9,000 breathtaking acres, which includes a working farm that produces heirloom tomatoes, honey, and even fresh cheese from Friesian sheep. Enjoy the results of Blackberry Farm’s bounty at the hotel’s restaurant, where chefs whip up cuisine that incorporates ingredients that were just harvested hours earlier. The food isn’t the only thing that shines here, either. Expert sommeliers can suggest the perfect bottle to accompany a guest’s meal from Blackberry Farm’s impressive wine cellar, and tours of the on-site brewery are another popular activity. Guests can also take part in culinary demonstrations, wine and whiskey tastings, or even a “Day in the Life of a Chef” experience, where guests can tag along with the farm’s expert culinary masters.

Photo by: Blackberry Farm
Photo by: Blackberry Farm

5. The NoMad Hotel -New York City, NY

You might think that in a culinary-rich destination like New York City, staying at a foodie-themed hotel isn’t necessary. And maybe it isn’t … but a few nights at The NoMad Hotel in NYC sure sounds like fun. Guests can nibble on innovative cuisine and cocktails inspired by the chef’s time spent in New York, California, and Switzerland while exploring the hotel’s expansive dining areas. Sip a gin and tonic on the roof top for incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, or stay cozy with your cocktail inside next to the incredible fireplace. Graze on finger foods in the library before heading to the sumptuous parlor or light-filled atrium for your main meal. End your evening of gustatory delights with a nightcap at one of the hotel’s two bars: the elegant, sumptuous Elephant Bar or the more relaxed and convivial NoMad Bar. With all the dining options at this hotel, you might never make it outside to explore the rest of the city!

Photo by: NY Times
Photo by: NY Times

4. Post Ranch Inn -Big Sur, CA

Discerning diners are often faced with a tough dilemma: do you dine at the restaurant with the great view, or the restaurant with the great food? Your dilemma is solved at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. The Inn’s restaurant, Sierra Mar, sits high above Big Sur’s famously dramatic cliffs, so guests can take in the amazing ocean views while dining on innovative cuisine that highlights coastal California’s fresh foodie vibe. For the ultimate foodie experience, opt for Sierra Mar’s “Taste of Big Sur” tasting menu—but only if you think you can make it through all nine courses. Luckily, the abundance of breathtaking hikes in the area will give you ample opportunities to work off your meal.

Photo by: SF Gate
Photo by: SF Gate

3. The Peninsula Chicago -Chicago, IL

Yes, this luxurious hotel is located in the Windy City, but you won’t find any of Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza here. Instead, The Peninsula Chicago has three outstanding restaurants for you to choose from. Indulge in afternoon high tea in the Lobby, and be sure to check out the decadent Chocolate Bar that’s set up on Friday and Saturday evenings. Head upstairs to the Shanghai Terrace for crafty cocktails and yummy dim sum served alongside spectacular views of the Chicago skyline. Escape to the cobblestone streets of Europe (at least for an hour or two), at Pierrot Gourmet, a European-inspired bistro, sidewalk café, and wine bar. Sip on some after-dinner drinks at the hotel bar, where cocktails with fun names like “White Whiskey Fizz” and “Elderberry Smash” are sure to whet your whistle. Trust us, with all of these options, you won’t even miss the deep dish!

Photo by: The Peninsula Chicago
Photo by: The Peninsula Chicago

2. The Cosmopolitan -Las Vegas, NV

Skip the gambling and go for all things gourmet at this landmark Vegas hotel. When dining at The Cosmopolitan, you get to choose between not one, not two, not three, but 14 different restaurants! From scrumptious red velvet waffles for breakfast at the Overlook Grill to the sophisticated Italian dishes served up for dinner at Scarpetta, you’ll find something your taste buds will love at this hotel. Plus, this is a great option if you’re travelling with a bunch of your foodie friends; the Cosmopolitan makes it easy to reserve private dining rooms or tables for big groups (think 13 or more). Another plus? A good number of the hotel’s restaurants offer solid happy hour specials, so dining well doesn’t mean you’ll have to blow your entire paycheck.

Photo by: Al Powers
Photo by: Al Powers

1. The Willows Inn -Lummi Island, WA

At The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington state, Chef Blaine Wetzel whips hyper local ingredients into provocative dishes during tasting menus that often last three hours. The guest experience at this inn revolves around the dinner table; inn guests get first dibs on hard-to-get dinner reservations, and the tasting menu starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. There’s plenty else to do in this picturesque part of the Pacific Northwest, including hiking, whale watching, island hopping, and more. Hardcore foodies may want to consider continuing their culinary adventures away from the table with a wild foraging tour via kayak.

Photo by: The Willows Inn
Photo by: The Willows Inn

10 Mistakes Most Tourists Make in Chicago

You know the saying: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. As travelers, we know this is true in any city we visit, including the Windy City. But even when we try to be aware and well-informed, we often end up breaking unspoken rules or even getting roped into activities the locals will actively avoid—and that’s just as true in Chicago as anywhere else, as evidenced by these 10 common tourist mistakes. Avoid these faux pas on your next trip to the Windy City if you want to blend right in.

10. Put Ketchup on Your Hot Dog

Many, many people put ketchup on their dogs, but in Chicago, this is considered a huge faux pas. It’s so irritating to locals that some places, like Gene and Jude’s hot dog stand, won’t even stock ketchup. The next-door McDonald’s will still sell you a packet or 2, but why not try something new? Try the city’s namesake hot dog. When you’re in Chicago, do as Chicagoans do: garnish your meal with a spear of dill pickle, tomato, mustard, relish and chopped white onion, and skip the ketchup. Even if some people consider ketchup a serving of veggies, you’re probably better off grabbing the fresh tomatoes anyway—and the locals will appreciate your efforts to respect their culinary traditions, even if you do think they’re a bit strange.

chicago hot dog

9. Make This a Winter Getaway

Chicago is known as the Windy City, but it’s also a city that gets winter. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the breezes roll in with plenty of storms, which means that Chicago often gets dumped on by snow. Midwestern freezes are also commonplace in the winter and the mercury will dip dangerously low. You won’t want to get outside and truly enjoy all the city has to offer when simply walking between venues might mean freezing. Instead, visit the city any time between May and September, when it comes alive with outdoor patios, food festivals and concerts. You can enjoy beaches, biking along waterfront trails, boat rides on the lake and strolls through beautiful parks. While restaurants, cultural events, bars and shopping are year-round attractions, you’ll enjoy them more during the summer months.

chicago summer

8. Go to Navy Pier

Although Navy Pier has a reputation as a “must-see” attraction for tourists, most locals will tell you to simply steer clear of this place. Billed as something like New York’s Times Square, Navy Pier is busy and touristy, meaning it’s teeming with people and overpriced food. While some people will suggest it’s a great place to take the family for an afternoon outing, there’s ultimately not much to do here—which might mean dealing with bored kids. With parking priced around $25 and a bottle of water running you $3.50 a pop, you’ll probably find yourself forking out more money than this so-called attraction is worth. Unless you’re departing on a boat cruise, avoid this one. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Chicago’s waterfront, including great beaches and lakeside parks.

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

7. Buy Cubs Tickets in Advance

While visiting Wrigley Field is considered a “must” on any traveler’s Chicago itinerary, you don’t need to spend a lot for the experience, especially if you don’t care much for baseball. The Cubs’ schedules means there are plenty of day games, which rarely sell out. You’ll likely find face-value tickets for sale at the stadium’s box office on the day of the game, and if you ask for the cheapest tickets, you’ll score a great deal—and a good seat, since there’s not a bad one in the house. If the game’s already underway, you can bargain with any of the scalpers outside the stadium; most are willing to cut a deal, especially if the Cubs have been playing poorly. Just make sure not to miss the seventh-inning stretch, when the crowd gets to its feet and sings “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

6. Eat at Chains

Chicago has some rich culinary traditions, like the aforementioned hot dogs and the famous deep-dish pizza. One common mistake tourists make is to simply stick to a diet of hot dogs and/or deep-dish pies, without ever venturing out of their comfort zone. Other visitors will simply cling to familiar names, opting to eat at chain restaurants instead of exploring the vibrant and bustling restaurant scene. The city sports some serious eats; you can find something better among literally hundreds of other options than overpriced, mass-produced foods. Check out one of the many mom-and-pop shops offering up thin-crust pizzas. Even though the city is famous for deep-dish pies, there are many delectable thin-crust options in town too. You’re in a new city (or maybe the same city for a second or third time); time to branch out, be adventurous and try something new.

deep dish pizza chicago

5. Visit Willis Tower

The lines for Willis Tower’s Skydeck are infamously long, and yet tourists continue to wait for their turn on the observation floor. While there may have been good argument for this in the past, Willis Tower (originally the Sears Tower) has been dethroned as the tallest building in America; it’s now only the second-tallest building in the nation. Regular tickets are priced at $19, but if you want to skip the line, it will cost you about double. Although the view from the 103rd floor of the building, which is still the tallest in Chicago, is impressive, you can enjoy it just as much from the 95th floor of the John Hancock building, sipping a cocktail at the Signature Room. On a clear day, you can see not only Chicago, but Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

willis tower chicago

4. Go to the Theater District

You’re not on Broadway, but tickets in Chicago’s Theater District are priced like you might be. In recent years, Chicago has become a sort of pre-Broadway testing ground for big-budget productions, but you should see these shows on Broadway, not in Chicago before they’ve worked out all their kinks. And even though Broadway production companies will tour their shows and stop in Chicago, you should skip the Broadway-esque shows and spring for something with a more local flavor. Chicago has plenty of theaters showcasing local talent and more offbeat shows. If you’re up for some laughs, grab tickets to the city’s legendary Second City, a comedy club that has produced some of the best improv stars of the last 3 decades. Other improv venues abound, so you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg to be entertained in the Windy City.

dibrova / Shutterstock.com
dibrova / Shutterstock.com

3. Shop Michigan Avenue

Like many other cities, Chicago has an area that’s come to be the designated “shopping district.” Michigan Avenue, sometimes referred to as the “Magnificent Mile,” has lost some of its magnificence in recent years. These days, the mile is littered with mall staples like H&M and Nordstrom—stuff most of us can find near to home anyway. To really shop Chicago, you’ll need to branch out. Wicker Park and Bucktown offer an eclectic mix of indie shops, designer boutiques and vintage stores. If you’re a bookworm, you’ll want to head to Andersonville, while families will find children’s boutiques and home décor in Roscoe Village. For those looking to splurge, head up to Oak Street, where many high-end designers have settled, away from the Magnificent Mile. Boystown offers up great vintage shops for those looking for something a bit more retro.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

2. Go to Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad; it’s the largest zoo in Chicago, so it only makes sense that people flock there. Unfortunately, the zoo is located in the suburbs, rather than in the city itself. While that might only seem logical, as a zoo needs a lot of space, the fact of the matter is that the zoo is out of the way enough that it becomes a day trip. Whether you drive yourself or take transit, the outbound trip and the return will eat up a good portion of your day. After making the trek, you’ll likely want to get your money’s worth. If you’re pressed for time, check out the Lincoln Park Zoo instead. Although much smaller than Brookfield, this zoo is located along the waterfront, making it both convenient to get to and in close proximity to some of Chicago’s beaches.

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

1. Limit Yourself to Downtown

This is a mistake that many travelers make in many cities, and visitors to Chicago are no exceptions. While the downtown core may seem to be the place to be, packed with history and numerous cultural attractions, there are plenty of vibrant communities outside of the core, just waiting to be explored. Venture outside the Loop and River North. Head over to the South Side to visit Hyde Park, Little Italy and Chinatown. Hop across town and visit Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square or Andersonville on the North Side. You might even explore the community of Pilsen or Logan Square. If you’re willing to make the trip outside the city and see Brookfield Zoo, then be sure to check out other surrounding areas, like Evanston and the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

The 7 Best Urban Parks in America

When you hear ‘urban park’ and ‘America’ in the same sentence, one immediately thinks of Central Park in NYC, but it may surprise you to learn that all over America there are incredible urban parks. Parks play a key role in making a city desirable for both visitors and locals and it explains why cities are investing more and more money into them. From trapeze lessons on Governor’s Island to the impressive San Diego Zoo located in Balboa Park to parks that host awesome parties and festivals, here are seven urban parks that make these cities even more attractive to both live and visit.

7. Grant Park, Chicago

It is refereed to as Chicago’s “Front Yard”, a 319-acre public park that includes many notable features including Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago and Buckingham Fountain. As well this park happens to be the site of three world-class museums, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, performance venues, gardens and sculptures. The beautiful lakefront recreation center, Maggie Daley Park opened in 2014 as well as the ice skating ribbon, a skating experience unlike any other that winds its way through a rolling landscape with a city skyline as a backdrop. It is also home to the famous shiny reflective bean shaped sculpture that has become both a city icon and popular photo-op.

grant park

6. Schenley Park, Pittsburgh

This beautiful park is worth a visit anytime of the year, but especially in the summertime where free movies play on Flagstaff Hill, or during the fall where the leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red. There are enough sports for everyone here, from the 13 tennis courts to the soccer field to the running track, high-jump area to the 18-hole Frisbee golf course. Visitors can also choose to take it slow, wander through the Phipps Conservatory and gaze at the rare miniature orchids or the primitive tree ferns. The free Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix also takes place here during July and 150 sports cars navigate 23 turns around the parks Paddock Drive, while some 200,000 visitors cheer them on.

Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com
Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com

5. Balboa Park, San Diego

Sitting at just over 1,200 acres, this stunning park packs in more attractions than you could possibly visit in just one day, including the Tony Award-winning Old Glove theatre. It is here where visitors will find the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Museum of Art, numerous hiking and biking trails, a handful of playgrounds and more. There are a ton of restaurants to choose from here including tea pavilions, cafes, grills and pubs. Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and including buildings so stunning they have been used in movies and television shows, consider yourself lucky if you happen to have this incredible urban park as your backyard.

Balboa Park, San Diego

4. Encanto Park, Phoenix

This 222-acre oasis lies just a few blocks from the busy central corridor and features awesome picnic areas, a lagoon, boat house, swimming pool and more. Rent a paddle boat or canoe and enjoy the lagoon along with the opportunity for fishing and observing ducks. One of the best attractions here is the Enchanted Island Amusement Park, a park that features a ton of rides and activities for the whole family. There are a ton of free things to do as well here such as rollerblading along the paved trails, getting in a good workout at the exercise field, check out Art in Park or toss a Frisbee around in one of many green spaces.

Encanto Park, Phoenix

3. Discovery Green Park, Houston

This downtown paradise was made when the city decided to tear up numerous concrete parking lots and turn this otherwise unattractive part of the city into Discovery Green Park. This 12-acre park features awesome amenities such as a man-made lawn, 12-foot high arcing water jets, rolling green lawns and fine dining restaurants. Throughout the year numerous wacky competitions take place here, along with the dog jumping competitions and free classes. During the winter an amazing ice skating rink is open to the public as well as a field of lights, an awe-inspiring art installation that shines against the dark sky. Playgrounds, stages, trails, art installations, gardens, reading rooms and other awesome surprises await visitors at this awesome urban park.

goodcat / Shutterstock.com
goodcat / Shutterstock.com

2. Governors Island, New York City

This former military base off the tip of lower Manhattan has been turned into an amazing urban park, offering visitors and locals of NYC a second choice in awesome parks. It is here where you will find electric arts, food events and even a sandy beach to hang out at. Get here by taking the free ferry ride from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building or take the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, which offers stunning views of the skyline and State of Liberty. Circus nerds will go nuts over the trapeze lessons that are offered on the weekends and music fans unite to rock out to some incredible waterfront concerts. The island is car-free so many choose to rent bikes and cycle around, go on Fridays between May and October and even get your bike for free!

Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com
Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com

1. City Park, New Orleans

This park is as magical and historical as the city of New Orleans itself, boasting the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. These sculptural-looking marvels include some that have their branches spread out twice as wide as their height (up to 75ft)! There are way too many things in this park to mention, but some of the most notable include the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Big Lake, Art and Sculpture Garden, City Splash and numerous playgrounds and sports fields. Summertime brings genteel parties complete with mint juleps and performances at the Botanical Gardens and live bands at the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. Enjoy the 18-hole golf course, the famous antique carousel and the beautiful Couturier Forest.

City Park, New Orleans

6 Incredible Hockey Rinks to Visit this Year

Watching a hockey game, whether it is a professional league or a kid’s game is entirely more enjoyable when you are sitting in the stands, rather than watching it on TV at home. Teams have made a strong effort to enhance fan’s enjoyment of the game by creating some pretty incredible hockey arenas over the years. Boatloads of amenities, unique architecture and the fans themselves are all reasons why these six hockey rinks deserve a visit this year. Go on, throw on a jersey and explore.

6. Gjovik Olympic Cavern Hall – Norway

Built in 1993 for the 1994 Olympics, this structure, which includes not only a hockey rink but also a swimming pool, is the largest cavern all for public use in the world. This is because the Norwegians decided to build their hockey rink into the Hovdetoppen mountain, instead of dwarfing the landscape. What this means is that all nine stories of the building are actually underground. Visitors here must actually go completely subterranean to watch a local professional hockey game. Seating capacity for this rink is 5,800 and one won’t have to worry about being unsafe in here, as the hall duplicates as a civil defense facility and is designed to withstand nuclear, conventional and gas attacks! Expect a dark and mysterious feeling to this rink as the venue was designed to reflect Norwegian culture and character, and based around caves of fairy tale trolls.

Photo by: Visit Norway
Photo by: Visit Norway

5. Ericsson Globe – Stockholm, Sweden

Often referred to as the Stockholm Globe Arena, this is the national indoor arena of Sweden and currently the largest hemispherical building in the world. Remarkably it only took two and a half years to build and has a diameter of 361 feet and inner height of 279 feet. The Globe has been host to many NHL games over the years as well as being host to Pope Jon Paul II in 1989.  There are a ton of amenities at this rink including some awesome restaurants, child seat cushions and priority seating for those with disabilities. Taking in a hockey game here is a must, as is riding to the top on the SkyView Gondola, which offers a fantastic view of all of Stockholm.

Lucian Milasan / Shutterstock.com
Lucian Milasan / Shutterstock.com

4. Scotiabank Saddledome – Alberta, Canada

Designed by Graham McCourt Architects, this arena is one of the best in the world when it comes to visibility, as in there is no bad seat in the house thanks to the pillar-free viewing seat design. Coincidentally this design resembles a saddle, perfect for the home of the Calgary Stampede. This 1980’s icon holds the world record for the longest spanning hyperbolic paraboloid concrete shell. This arena seats 19,289 for hockey and lacrosse and varies for other events that take place throughout the year. It remains one of the oldest arenas in the NHL fueling speculation that it may need to be replaced in the near future. For now though, fans should hurry up and check out this awesome arena packed with some of the most loyal fans in the country.

Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

3. TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts

The passion of the Boston Bruins fans make visiting this hockey arena quite the experience, that is unless you are rooting against Boston, in that case we suggest you keep that to yourself. With not a bad seat in the house and with multiple train lines inside and around the building, it is also very easy to reach. Close to the historic north end of Boston, you may just find yourself at one of the great pubs around the corner after the game. Inside TD Garden you will find plenty of concession options with short line ups, letting fans catch the most of the game while chowing down on some grub. One of the finest ways to catch a game here though is in the Legends Club where five-star food is served in a luxurious atmosphere. However you choose to watch the Bruins take on their opponent, this experience will be well worth it.

Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

2. Xcel Energy Center – Minnesota

It is one of the most fan-friendly hockey venues in the United States and one of the best to watch the Minnesota Wild take on their opponents. This ultra-modern arena is beautiful both inside and out and from a technological standpoint, it is one of the best in the league. An absolutely mammoth jumbotron makes sure that fans don’t miss a single moment of the game while an excellent sound systems makes things even more exciting. The concourse of this arena is overly large and hosts a variety of food options to keep everyone happy throughout the game. The fans here are the ultimate hockey fans, based in “the state of hockey” and love to show their love for the team, which makes watching them in this arena that much better.

Photo by: Brandon Meier via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Brandon Meier via Wikimedia Commons

1. United Center – Chicago, IL

There is a reason that this hockey rink is called “Madhouse on Madison,” it is undoubtedly the loudest hockey arena in the NHL league and is one of the largest arenas in which to watch a NHL game. There is extensive hockey history here; along with on ice success and awesome arena entertainment; which is why this is the most incredible hockey rink to visit this year. An average of 21, 600 fans pack into the arena on game night and are treated to a fantastic show. One unique aspect of the hockey games here is the music that is played during the games, in particular the Allen Digital Organ. The organ and its sound took over a year to create and is based on the famous Barton Organ that was found in the old Chicago Stadium. Because the organ was too bug and difficult to transport to the new arena, each sound was digitally re-created to provide fans with the utmost authentic sounds of the famous organ. Banners and jerseys hang in the rafters, fans cheer wildly and the players play their hearts out; really what more could you ask for.

Photo by: Wally Gobetz via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Wally Gobetz via Wikimedia Commons

8 Great Microbreweries in the Midwest

The heartland of the U.S. has brought us world-famous beers like Budweiser and Miller High Life and in recent years, it’s become home to an increasing number of outstanding microbreweries. These shrines to foamy goodness in a glass are bringing back the art of hand-crafted lagers and ales that was the norm for so long. Many of them are housed in cool, historic buildings and offer behind-the-scenes brewery tours as well as tap rooms where you can get a great meal and taste some of their finest, small-batch creations not available anywhere else. Here’s my “Great Eight” Midwest microbreweries.

1. Great Lakes Brewing -Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, like other cities, has seen the craft beer craze catch on in a big way recently. The one that got it all started is Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio’s first and most celebrated microbrewery. Many of Great Lakes’ brews like Burning River Pale Ale are among Ohio’s most popular craft beers, while others are only available at its brewpub. The brewpub and brewery are located in Ohio City, one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods located across the Cuyahoga River from downtown. The brewpub, housed in an historic brick complex, serves excellent pub-style food in several quaint spaces including a tree-lined beer garden along a cobblestone street. Its beautiful tiger mahogany bar once hosted Eliot Ness, the leader of the ‘Untouchables’ law enforcement team that battled infamous gangster Al Capone. Brewery tours cost $5, last an hour and include four five-ounce samples. A gift shop sells Great Lakes and Cleveland memorabilia.

Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing
Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing

2. Bell’s Brewery Inc -Kalamazoo, MI

Bell’s Brewery was the first brewery in Michigan to open an onsite brewpub (1993) and since then, the downtown Kalamazoo landmark has become as an entertainment center with an expansive outdoor beer garden and indoor events center that holds up to 375 people. The two-story brick complex was expanded in 2011. Large and airy with lots of wood tables and an impressive collection of art and memorabilia, the centerpiece of the complex is the Eccentric Café and its creative menu featuring everything from deviled eggs and falafel to beef brisket and green curried tofu. Up to 20 Bell’s brews are poured at any given time at the brewpub including small batch, pub-exclusive options. The events center hosts popular bands on national tours and even square dancing and trivia nights. Free brewery tours are offered on weekends and take 30-45 minutes.

Photo by: Bell’s Brewery Inc
Photo by: Bell’s Brewery Inc

3. Barley’s Brewing Co. -Columbus, OH

Walking into Barley’s Brewing on bustling High St. in downtown Columbus is like stepping back in time. The delightful brewpub, located near the Ohio State University campus, has been serving hand-crafted beer since 1991. The brewpub is chock-full of charm, with authentic wood booths, underground brewery and rathskeller-like events area with century-old stone walls and brick arches. These guys take their ales seriously, keeping them unpasteurized and brewing only 10 barrels per batch. Every Friday, they tap a different cask-conditioned ale that complement a dozen other Barley’s 12 brews that rotate weekly. The large menu features burgers and gourmet dogs as well as upscale pub grub like white truffle mac and cheese. The quality of Barley’s food and beer has built quite a following over the years. Patrons have included best-selling author Stephen King, actor James Doohan (Scotty on “Star Trek”) and rock band Cheap Trick.

Photo by: Barley’s Brewing Company
Photo by: Barley’s Brewing Company

4. Schlafly -St. Louis, MO

The town that introduced Budweiser to the world has some great microbreweries, too, as evidenced by Schlafly, debuted in 1991 in two adjoining brick and timber buildings that opened in 1902 and 1904. The massive complex had steel-reinforced beams to hold printing presses that operated for the Swift Printing Co. for 65 years. After Swift moved out in 1969, the buildings vacant for 22 years and were almost destroyed by a fire. The thriving taproom, located between St. Louis University and downtown’s riverfront, serves 16 small-batch draft beers and a menu featuring brew and food pairings like mussels and pale ale. Taproom and original brewery tours on Sundays are free and end with a pint (also free). Schlafly’s nearby Bottleworks brewery and restaurant complex also offers free weekend tours and Friday afternoon ‘beer school’ seminars that focus on the brewing process and end with, you guessed it, beer tastings.

Photo by: Schlafly
Photo by: Schlafly

5. 3 Floyds Brewing Co. -Munster, IN

Some of the rich, aromatic ales brewed by 3 Floyds have reached cult status, like its Zombie Dust Pale Ale that people (including me) sometimes stand in long lines simply to buy a single 12-ounce bottle. If you want to find out where the legend was born, you’ve got to travel to Munster, IN to visit the 3 Floyds brewpub. There, you’ll find a rotating menu of fine brews including its popular Alpha King Pale Ale and, if you’re lucky, Zombie Dust. They also offer pub-only selections and a creative food menu which changes seasonally to stay focused on the availability of locally sourced ingredients. Brewery tours are conducted on Saturdays from 12:30-5:30 and last about an hour. The brewpub also sells collectible-quality merchandise featuring the colorful comic book-like artwork that graces the 3 Floyds bottle labels sold in five Midwest states.

Photo by: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Photo by: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

6. Rhinegeist -Cincinnati, OH

Rhinegeist translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and for good reason. The brewery is located in downtown Cincinnati’s historic Over the Rhine (OTR) district where thousands of German immigrants—and 38 breweries—called home at the turn of the 20th Century. The microbrewery, which opened in 2013, is housed in the circa 1895 Christian Morlein Brewing Co. plant that sat empty for decades after Prohibition shuttered Morlein and other OTR breweries. Today, Rhinegeist offers up to 13 different ales, lagers, pilsners and hard ciders in its classic, beer hall-style taproom. The 25,000-square-foot space with high ceilings is massive, with rows of community tables and enough room to include indoor games like ping pong and foosball. TVs broadcast sports daily and guests are welcome to bring their own food. Private tours cost $10 and include a pint of beer. Free yoga sessions are offered on Sunday mornings in the beer hall.

Photo by: Rhinegeist
Photo by: Rhinegeist

7. Lakefront Brewery -Milwaukee, WI

The city that brought us beer icons like Miller High Life and Pabst Blue Ribbon has a lively microbrewery community. Its most popular micro operation is Lakefront Brewery, located in the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company building downtown that opened in 1908. Lakefront’s own history began in 1987 when brothers Russ and Jim Klisch took their love of brewing to the next level. Today, Lakefront has surpassed the 40,000-barrel milestone. Weekday tours are limited due to production but weekend tours give you the run of the place. Tours cost $8 and include four six-ounce samples and a souvenir pint glass. In-depth, technical tours are offered on Sundays for brew aficionados. They end with special beer and food pairings. Lakefront’ s beer hall is open daily and features a menu focused on locally sourced products. Fridays feature fish frys and live polka music (it is Milwaukee, after all).

Photo by: Lakefront Brewery
Photo by: Lakefront Brewery

8. Goose Island -Chicago, IL

Some people might not view Goose Island as a microbrewery anymore, given that its brews are sold in all 50 U.S. states and the U.K. But, the brewery on Chicago’s Near West Side certainly started out that way in 1988, and its lineup of ales, stouts and other delicious brews continue to taste hand-crafted. Interestingly, Goose Island recently opened its brewery to tours for the first time. Thursday through Sunday, the 45-minute, $12 tours include a tasting and take-home pint glass. Reservations are required. Its beautiful taproom overlooking brewery operations features several favorites as well as a changing menu of limited releases that are exclusive to the taproom. It doesn’t serve food but you’re welcome to bring your own.

Photo by: Goose Island
Photo by: Goose Island